First of all, thank you for letting me post here - and thank you to everyone who replied. Your passion for the Bobcats is obvious, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.
I took the liberty of grouping your suggestions and comments, and will do my best to address them by those groups. Some answers I have for you today. Some I'll have for you in the coming weeks. Some I have absolutely no idea if I'll ever be able to answer adequately. But I hope this serves as a jumping off point for more discussion on Bobcats-related topics.
The issue mentioned most so far is our television broadcast deal. While Time Warner Cable, and News 14 in particular, is a terrific partner for us, everyone realizes that the current agreement has some practical application limitations, and all sides are committed to finding solutions. How long , and in what form, those solutions will take is purely a matter of speculation at the moment, but understand that all sides are working hard at it because so much of our ability to grow the brand depends on fans throughout the region being able to regularly watch us play on television. And because Mark Packer said it's important (I'm kidding PacMan - it's good to be back in the market and listen to your show again).
Issue two (sounds like we're doing the McLaughlin Group now) is what we call internally "experiential marketing" - all the ways in which our fans experience the Bobcats in-person. I hear you loud and clear on the volume at the Arena (no pun intended). That's a really tough call for game presentation directors across the league. On the one hand, you don't want to bust people's ear drums - on the other hand, it is a live sporting event where you want to create a certain kind of atmosphere and homecourt advantage, and quiet arenas don't do much for that. Is there a happy medium? I believe so. Give us a chance to find it. As far as accessability to players, I believe you have a right to expect that as well. I've only been here a month now and am not completely familiar with our public appearance policy and schedule, but as soon as I learn more I will share it. And, yeah Spectre, we've got a hot dance team - you could have met a couple of them at Picasso's in University for our first watch party of the season. That schedule I do have, and I'll be happy to post it here.
After these two major issues, there were ten more with one or two comments each. Let me try to tackle what I know for sure, and then let you know which ones I can get answers for and which ones I have no answers for.
What I Know For Sure:
Our new website is coming. Soon. I saw a preview of it yesterday and it looks awesome. This is something you're going to be proud of, and something you'll be visiting a lot. In addition to the new look, it's going to take on a new philosophy. Bobcats.com won't necessarily be the place where Bobcats news breaks (we will do that occasionally, just not as a regular practice), but it will be the place that covers our news the best (video, blogs, transcripts, game stories, ticket window, community angles, partner pages, links, etc). Bobcats.com is unique among all media covering the team because of the access we provide it. Matt and his staff have been working their tails off over the past couple of months to create the new site and do it the right way. I know there have been delays and frustrations along with it, but it will be worth the wait.
Arena naming rights is another thing that a lot of people have been waiting patiently for, and another thing the organization is working around-the-clock to get done. Finding solutions for this and the television deal are priorities 1 and 1A for us because they both impact our brand, our business and our bottom line in so many ways. Finding those solutions will be huge for the organization, and the city as well, and I know there are a lot of very smart and committed people working dilligently on this because I've been in the room as they work on it.
On the basketball operations front, fans will have direct access to GM Rod Higgins tomorrow (Saturday) night during our chalk talk in Lowe's Home Court at 6pm. Mr. Higgins will speak about the direction of the team and answer your questions, so show up. Access doesn't come any more direct than that. Mr. Bickerstaff's role remains the same as Executive VP. I've seen him at games and in the office, and he deserves so much credit for the early development of many of our players.
From a community relations standpoint - thank you to all who have offered their assistance and contributions to our charitable foundation. The programs that our Senior VP of Community Relations LaRita Barber has put together are some of the best in the league, and the Community Care Cruiser is a great cause to get behind with a donation or attendance at our annual black tie fundraiser (which is widely heralded as the best of its kind in Charlotte - and that's saying a lot). The new website will be loaded with info on programs like these, and ways to get personally involved.
I know we don't give tickets away wholesale, but our sales staff certainly has a very limited number of comps at their disposal for prospecting purposes - getting serious potential ticket buyers to experience the game firsthand in an attempt to bring them on-board as future ticket buyers. This is an effective tool for our sales staff, and a practice used around the league.
What I Don't Know For Sure, But Can Ask About:
I don't know anything about an Arena boycott (perceived or otherwise), but will do my best to find out if that ever happened and what the final outcome was if it did. I've never seen or heard of protestors, but I will look into it.
Mr. Jordan's presence is certainly felt around the organization, but I think there's room for improvement on the organization's side (read: my department) to let people know just how much he is involved. MJ is the most unique owner in sports. No other owner is able to directly impact the way his team performs on the court like he's demonstrated he can. And while I recognize that doesn't quite feel the same to fans who want to see him sitting courtside, I love the idea of him delivering a pregame welcome. Let me pass that one along.
Playing regular season home games outside of our market is a little trickier than it sounds (this coming from someone who did it for two years post-Katrina, in which the Hornets played "home" games in four different arenas). Logistics, tickets, game operations, travel arrangements, broadcasts, sponsorships and the league schedule makers are just a few of the obstacles a team would need to deal with and overcome to pull off just one game outside of its home arena. But like I said, the Hornets did it for two years and the NHL just played a game outdoors so anything is possible.
What I Have No Answers For:
The issue I'll refer to as "Hornets Hangover" or "Anti-NBA" is the one that throws me for a loop. This is a new day, with a new franchise that is committed to Charlotte. There are no threats to leave, no animosity with ownership or management, no off-court troubles with our players, no irreparable damage in the market. And to hold a franchise that didn't exist 6 years ago accountable for the sins of another seems as irrational to me as painting every NBA player with the same brush and writing them all off as "thugs". For this issue I have no answer - other than the facts. Basketball is overtaking soccer as the world's most popular sport. The best basketball in the world is played in the NBA (hey, I was a college basketball purist myself once, and then I started watching the NBA in-person on a regular basis and it pained me to finally admit that there is no comparison to the athletic abilities and skill levels of NBA players). Charlotte is one of only 28 markets in the world to have an NBA team to call its own. And having lived in a market for two years that didn't have one but absolutely deserves its own, you should look at an NBA team as an asset to be cherished and protected because sports (and our sport in particular) is one place where people from all backgrounds and walks of life can come together and celebrate a commonality. When's the last time that happened at a grocery store (shameless plug - please shop at Harris Teeter), or in line at a bank (we love Wachovia!)?
This is turning a little "preachy" for my tastes so I'm going to stop here. Please keep the dialogue going. It's a great use of this forum. And please keep the suggestions coming. You never know when one of them becomes an NBA best practice and gets copied in markets around the league.